God Breathes When Darkness Pervades

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 5/31/2020

Just contemplate that a moment. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The reality of God’s existence ought to be one of the most foundational, elementary, obvious (observable) truths in all the universe. Creation declares the wonder, power, and goodness of God! Every aspect of creation, from least to greatest, has always stirred my heart to worship.

But look what Genesis 1:2 teaches us about creation: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” A very interesting detail. Who is the Spirit of God? Why is He mentioned? He’s hovering over that which is formless and purposeless (vain, empty, hollow, dead). He’s hovering over the earth/waters in all their potentiality.

May is always an amazing time of the year. We have all these varieties of birds that just show up. I could sit and watch them all day long (seriously). Their vivacious colors, their melodious songs, their perfectly honed instincts. This week this tiny bird kept flying into my garage while I was carving. He was peeking into every hole, and crevice, and corner of my shop! I finally realized he was hunting June bugs. June bugs are like the crash test dummies of insects! We have many!

Anyway, every May, Lara & I have to watch carefully when/where these birds build their nests. We usually have a full-time job keeping our three Schnauzers from their hatchlings. But what is our first clue that the miracle of life is underway? It’s a hovering momma and papa. Their hovering, doting over their nest, over the eggs, nurturing life from potentiality to actuality. That is the picture of we have of the Holy Spirit. A hovering, doting, dove. In Creation, the Spirit descends, hovers, and nurtures.

But look again. Genesis 1:3, 1:6, 1:9, 1:14, 1:20, 1:24, 1:26. These three simple, but powerful words are repeated: “And God said. . .” And whatever God speaks, comes to be. Just like we sometimes assume God’s Spirit is impersonal, we assume God’s Word is also impersonal. But God’s Spirit is living/personal, and God’s Word is living/personal. As God unveils His mysterious self, we come to discover that the Word of God is Christ Jesus. John 1:1-4 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

Just internalize this this principle: Through His Holy Spirit, and by His Living Word, God created all of heaven/earth… everything in it… everything about it! The Father, the Spirit of God, the Word of God Christ Jesus… they all have unique roles in creation, but they act in perfect concert, they are ONE in purpose. . . and the result of their Creative Work is too wondrous, too great, to quantify in words!

Now we know what a mess sinful man has made of this once perfect world. When sin entered creation, death came to all mankind. Our relationship with God was shattered (we sinned, we’re banished from God’s presence). Our relationship with ourselves was shattered (we were filled with shame and guilt, and lost our innocence, no longer able to justify ourselves, condemned by our own sin). Our relationship with one another was shattered—escalating from blame (He did it, she did it, no the Devil did it) to murder (Cain slaying Abel)—escalating into the days of Noah when every inclination of man’s heart was only evil all the time! Our relationship with creation was shattered. Ever since the beginning we’ve been in bondage to decay, to pain, to viruses, disease, suffering, thorn and thistle.

What a mess, what a blight, humankind has become! I find it amazing that God’s means of redeeming this broken world is the same means by which God created this world. When a big world needs salvation, God breathes! By his hovering, doting, nurturing Spirit… By his powerful, eternal Word… God recreates us! He takes what’s become unformed and transforms and re-forms it. He takes that which is empty and vain and fills it with his glory and presence.

Let’s consider a few verses. Psalm 104:30 says, “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” Another word for creation, is birth. Another phrase for new creation is new birth, becoming born again. 1 Peter 1:23 says of the Christian, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” That’s the foundational principle we must grasp. By God’s Spirit, and by God’s Holy Word, God redeems, God restores, God renews us.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (NIV) brings these ideas together. Paul says, “God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Notice how the Father, the Son, and the Spirit (not just in creation, but in redemption) work together in concert as One. The Father loves/sends forth his Son/Spirit. The Son lives/dies/justifies us by his shed blood (atoning for shame/guilt). The Holy Spirit hovers/ convicts/ calls/ woos/ raises/and sanctifies us—nursing us, mentoring us, tutoring us. And the end result is that (By God’s Spirit/ By God’s Word) we all become renewed in the image, knowledge, pattern of Christ Jesus himself! By God’s Spirit, By God’s Word were born again, we come to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! God Breathes through his Spirit, through his Word, when a big world needs salvation!

This morning is what is called Pentecost Sunday. It’s celebrated as the birth of the Church. How was the church born? How was the church created? In the same way the heaven and earth were created! According to the Father’s Will, by His Holy Spirit, and by His Word. If you take away the Spirit, if you take away the Word, there’s no church! The Father doesn’t operate apart from his Spirit. The Spirit doesn’t operate apart from the Word. They all operate in concert together. And as God’s Word, and God’s Spirit, go out into the world… the world renewed!

It’s interesting to consider three distinctive characteristics of the early church. I could use any number of verses, but I’ll use Acts 4:31. It says, “And when they [church] had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the Word of God with boldness.”

Who were they praying to? The Father! And when they prayed, whose power did they experience? The Holy Spirit. And when they were filled with the Holy Spirit what did they do? They spoke the Word of God with boldness! They proclaimed Christ! Genesis 1 becomes the pattern of church’s ministry. You begin with God. You invite his Spirit to descend/hover/dwell within. You speak God’s word. And then what does God do? He creates New Life! Where God sends forth his Spirit, his word never returns null/void, but fulfills the purpose for which sent.

Very next verses in Acts 4:32-34a say, “All the believers were one in heart and mind (One in concert with one another… one in concert with Father/Son/Spirit). No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. . .” Where Spirit/Word goes forth, new humanity emerges!

When we studied the Gospel of Mark, and spent all those weeks looking so closely at the ministry of Jesus, what did we learn? First, Jesus came to baptize men/women with the Holy Spirit. Second, Jesus first priority no matter what need he encountered, was to proclaim the Word of God. Jesus came baptizing/ preaching.

It still remains true, that the one great hope for this broken world is God’s Holy Spirit and God’s Holy Word. Subtract one or both and there is no power, no transformation, no fruit, no re-creation, no redemption. Acts 4:31, “And when they [church] had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the Word of God with boldness.”

In this series we’ve touched upon the most epic needs of our time. Where do we turn when we’ve run out of breath (literally, physically)? Where do we turn when we feel all alone, abandoned by God? When were spiritually, emotionally, physically exhausted? When life doesn’t make sense? When life is filled with pain? Or when our character fails? 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (NIV), “God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do you know what firstfruits are? Firstfruits are the first crop. In creation, God’s Spirit, God’s Word, brought forth firstfruits. Plants. Animals. Aquatic life. Everything. The first man and first woman… it all emerges from the dust of the earth. But in redemption, who are God’s firstfruits? Who reflects the power of God’s Holy Spirit and Holy Word? It’s the Church! We’re the firstfruits. In us, God is displaying, to this broken world, the effectiveness of His Spirit and Word.

We can hold a lot of things out to the world—but the greatest thing we can hold out is a relationship with the Father, the Spirit, and the Living Word of God Christ Jesus Himself. Through his Spirit, by his Word, may God shake the ground (shake this earth) wherever two or more of us are gathered! Through his Spirit, by his Word, may we share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

When big world needs salvation… God breathes.

BOLDNESS… confidence is spirit and word to work…

Scripture Verses

Genesis 1, John 1:1-4, Psalm 104:30, 1 Peter 1:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Acts 4:31-34

Worship Playlist

God of the Promise by Passion

Spirit of the Living God by Vertical Worship

Faithful to the End by Bethel Music

Broken Vessels by Hillsong Worship

Study Questions

1. How did the Spirit breathe in your life as you needed salvation? How do you make a vital connection with God’s Word each day? How does the Spirit and the Word work together to transform us?

2. Who is on your mind when you think of people around you who need salvation? What are their stories?

3. Some people aren’t interested in being saved. How do you help those who don’t want help finding God?

4. Looking back over this series, what have you come to understand about the Holy Spirit? Write a prayer thanking God for the many ways the His Spirit blesses and cares for you.

Apply It!